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Tuesday, November 11, 2014, Kartik 27, 1421, Muharram 17, 1436 Hijr

Tengratila Gas field to reopen
Jannatul Ferdousy
Publish Date : 2014-11-11,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 18
The government wants to resume activities in the Tengratila Gas field which has been deserted since 2005. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said, "Gas flow has been found here again."
"We have found existence of gas flow through small cannels at different areas from the field visit," he added.            
However, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) decided to engage international blow out experts to assess the liabilities of Niko Resources of two gas blow outs in the Tengratila gas explosion of 2005.
"We received the ICSID's verdicts recently; however, they want to know our (Bangladesh's) stand on the issue. The ICSID wants our opinion on the engagement of experts by October 30," a senior official of the energy ministry said.
In the proceedings before the tribunal on August 20, 2013, the Bangladesh team challenged the jurisdiction of the ICSID tribunal to hear the claims first made by Niko Resources (Bangladesh) Ltd to settle the compensation issue.
Nevertheless, Petrobangla secured Bangladesh's right to claim 107 million USD from Niko in Bangladesh's court at the tribunal of the ICSID last year. Niko owes 25 million USD as gas bills.
According to the energy ministry sources, since last year Niko plans to leave Bangladesh without settling the Tengratila blowout compensation case.
According to sources in Petrobangla and energy ministry, the tribunal had meeting with Niko and representatives from Bangladesh on October 16 to settle the payment of gas bills.
So the ICSID deferred the final hearing on compensations scheduled to take place in November 10-16 in London claimed on the two blow outs, the official said.
In April 2010, Niko Resources filed two separate cases against Bangladesh to the ICSID, contesting its liability in the Tengratila gas explosion of 2005.
It is to be mentioned that ICSID started the hearing of "payment of gas bills for sale of gas from the Feni field" in last April which was withheld by an order of the High Court of Bangladesh.
"This time we sat to settle the gas selling issue from Feni gas field as we stopped paying bill to Niko and sought local court's intervention to stop the transfer of any assets of Feni and Bangura gas fields that belong to Niko Resources in Bangladesh."
Moreover, the government and the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela) filed two separate lawsuits in Bangladeshi courts after a probe committee determined that Niko should pay Bangladesh TK 746 crore as compensation.
The government's lawyer sent "preliminary objection" against the first arbitration suit, saying the issues claimed by Niko for settlement are not under the jurisdiction of the ICSID.
Later, when the hearing of the lawsuits took place in October 13-14, 2011, in London, the ICSID, chaired by Michael Schneider, ruled that it had "no jurisdiction over Bangladesh, which therefore no longer is a respondent in this arbitration".
According to the energy ministry, Niko began its drilling operation at Tengratila on December 31, 2004 and 7 days later there was a fatal blow out. Six months later, another blow out occurred at the same gas field. The blowouts cost Bangladesh about 1,794 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas worth Tk 13,631 crore.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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